BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: All About Photography : Photographing Specific Subjects : Taking Sunset and Sunrise Photos

Photography Question 
Kathy L. Pollick
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/14/2005
 

Why Is This Picture So BAD???


 
 
OK. I know I'm just learning, but the other morning on my way to work I saw this beautiful sunrise and had to stop to take a picture. It was almost daylight out (around 7:30 am) but the sun peeking over the horizon still lit up the sky. WHY does everything look so black in the pics, and why is there a reddish circle over on the right side? I used a flash, which maybe I shouldn't have and I'm not certain, but I may have had a circular polarizer on also.


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10/7/2005 11:13:22 AM

 
Karen E. Michaels
karenemichaels.com
  You have answered your own question. Polarized filter and flash at sunrise do not mix.


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10/7/2005 12:25:23 PM

 
Kerry L. Walker   You also need to understand that, at sunset, the light from the sky is so much brighter than the light in the foreground that you will either get a silhouette (if you meter off the sky) or blow out the sky (if you meter off the foreground). You might try using a split (graduated) ND filter, which will cut down on the light from the sky.


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10/7/2005 12:29:04 PM

 
Kathy L. Pollick
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/14/2005
  Ahhh... Thanks much. Next time I'll know better!!!


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10/7/2005 12:29:18 PM

 
Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/18/2000
  Ditto, Karen and Kerry. The flash is only good for lighting near subjects. It cannot light the distant trees. The polarizer is most effect when the sun is 90 to the direction you are shooting. Straight into the sun, it is least effective, and its additional glass surfaces add to flare and ghosting (the reddish circle on the right side).


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10/7/2005 2:42:12 PM

 
Caiti M. Goeden   I dont know very much about photography either but the advice that helps me and that may help you is to watch your horizons and keep them straight as possible.

*** caiti


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10/7/2005 6:09:01 PM

 
John G. Clifford Jr
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/18/2005
  I see several problems.
One, what film were you using? There's a lot of grain in the photo. You want to use 100 ASA film for shots like this, and a tripod.
Two, the reflection in your photo could be the result of the filter (specifically, a reflection off the inside of the filter). You don't want, or need, polarized filters when shooting into the sun like this.
Three, as someone said, when the light levels vary this widely across your picture, you have four choices: Expose for the sky (giving a black ground); expose for the ground (blowing out the sky); using a graduated neutral-density filter so you can get both ground and sky; or shooting two photos (one for the sky, one for the ground) and blending them in an image editor (you'll need to shoot from a tripod to have a chance to pull this off successfully).
Since you're using a film camera, the graduated ND filter approach is the easiest. You can buy several with different stop differences... then meter the sky, meter the foreground, figure the difference in stops, and use the appropriate grad filter.
Keep in mind also that the eye can capture much more variances in light levels than film (or digital) cameras, so unless you expose for the sky in some manner (as described above) you will have no chance of capturing even some of the different light levels that make sunrises and sunsets so intriguing.


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10/8/2005 11:56:30 PM

 
Harry Lichtman
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/23/2004
  Another compositional element that you may try, or have heard, is to avoid placing the horizon dead center. If there is fantastic sky color(which usually means some clouds, let them fill more of the frame. SInce there aren't many clouds, I'm not sure if the image would have worked, unless there was some very interesting foreground element. I've learned that sometimes one has to just enjoy the sunrise or sunset, and realize on film it may not make a great shot. Unfortunately, this is learned through pictures that didn't turn out the way we thought. Being selective takes some time to learn.


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10/11/2005 12:33:38 PM

 
Kathy L. Pollick
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/14/2005
  Thanks all of you for your responses. Sounds to me, it would be easiest to sit back & enjoy the view as opposed to trying to photo it... lol. I used a 400 film. That's what was in the camera. I will try to find the ND filter as I don't have a good software editing program yet. Unfortunately, I haven't learned yet about metering things, so even though I know what you are talking about... I'm not sure yet how to do it. I haven't gotten thru Bryan Peterson's book yet about Exposuring, so maybe it will be in there somewhere.... hopefully. But thanks for the help. Guess the only way to learn these things is to keep trying.


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10/11/2005 12:41:58 PM

 
Harry Lichtman   Hi Kathy, me again. I wouldn't spend too much $ on a "good" photo editing program yet, if you're trying to master exposure. A simple $30 - $40 program like MGI PhotoSuite will be more than adequate. Though there are more expensive options out there, I learned on this simple, but full featured software and it was not too frustrating! LOL- hope the advice & comments were constructively critical.

Harry


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10/11/2005 3:14:20 PM

 
Choo Choo Love
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/15/2004
  Hi Kathy:

I'm pretty new at photography too but I simply take sunrise and sunset shots on Landscape mode with my Canon digital Rebel XT. I don't know if you have a digital or not or if your camera has Landscape modes? Landscape mode works out real well for me for still scenery of sunsets and sunrises.

I've also taken some shots where there's a sun spot showing and I learned from Sam and Chris and Jon and others on this forum (the best forum with unbelievable people, by the way) is not to shoot at the sun, to focus on a cloud and to wait for the sun to go down a little (maybe behind some trees or just below a roof but still giving you vivid colors).

If there are geese or birds flying in it, then I use creative mode where I adjust the shutter speed and ISO and the noise filter. I only learned to do that a week ago!

You can take a look at my gallery. I have two sunset shots on it using the Landscape mode.

Choo


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10/11/2005 8:53:17 PM

 
Kathy L. Pollick
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/14/2005
  I have 3 or 4 cheap editing softwares (Adobe Photo Deluxe, Kodak Imaging, & a couple others I can't remember the name of)& they do the very basic in editing. I would like to get PS - someday - but for now I'll use what I have & try to perfect the actual picture taking first. Choo, no I don't have a digital yet, either. Someday I hope to. I don't think my camera has a landscape mode. I went thru the book a few times looking at different features, but it also is pretty basic. I like your Geese pictures. I also love geese & ducks. Used to have some as pets. I enjoy the critiquing, whether good or bad. That's how I learn. So pick away. I appreciate all the help!!!


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10/12/2005 5:18:13 AM

 
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